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The cast of The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)
The cast of The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged)

‘Thou shalt not laugh’: Bible play banned in Northern Ireland

A play that was dubbed ‘blasphemous’ has been pulled from a council-run theatre.
Jan 24th 2014, 10:49 PM 16,433 136

A PLAY THAT has been slammed as ‘disrespectful to Christians’ has been pulled from a theatre near Belfast.

Councillors in Newtownabbey have pulled a performance of The Bible: The Complete Word of God (Abridged) from the council-run Theatre at the Mill, with one saying that councillors “need to protect Christian values”.

Calls had been made previously to cancel the ‘blasphemous’ show, which was due to be performed next week by the Reduced Shakespeare Company.

The show has toured the world, even playing at the Jerusalem Festival without objection.

Local DUP councillor Billy Ball told The Guardian that the play was poking fun at the Bible.

“For Christians, the Bible is the infallible word of God and it’s not something to be made fun of. These people are treating something sacred with irreverence and disrespect,” he said

Not so, claim the producers, who say the play is a ‘two-hour celebration of faith’.

Playwright Austin Tichenor, co-author of the script and one of the managing partners of the Reduced Shakespeare Company, said “Our show is a celebration of all the great stories of the Bible.

“The theatre is our temple and we’re disappointed that people of all faiths will now not be able to gather at the Theatre at the Mill and lift their voices in communal laughter.

We find it quite staggering that this type of censorship still appears to flourish in the UK and would like to apologise to all the audience members who bought tickets and are therefore unable to see the show.

“Thanks to everyone for the hundreds of messages of support we have received. It’s a shame these voices are drowned out by the few dissenting, uninformed ones.”

Column: Irish art and culture is being failed by lazy, inept leadership

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Paul Hosford

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